Fears of coronavirus outbreak sweeping Rohingya refugee camps

  • Video report by ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar

Fears of the deadly coronavirus sweeping families living in refugee camps in Bangladesh are building as aid agencies warn of the impending disaster that could arise after the first cases of Covid-19 have emerged there.

It has been three years since thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into south eastern Bangladesh from Myanmar, previously known as Burma.

Large families are now often living in one room in camps near the tourist port town of Cox's Bazar.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases stands at less than 10 but those living there are fearing for their lives as social distancing is virtually impossible.

Mohammad Hossain, who's 45-years-old, said it is impossible to maintain social distancing measures while living in the Bangladesh camp.

He said: "The camp is very small, but there’s a huge number of people. So we can't maintain the social distance here. We’re very cramped together. So we are at risk."

Mohammed said it is impossible to maintain social distancing measures while living in the camp.

Like many others in the south eastern Bangladesh camp, Mohamed Osman lives in a multigenerational household, where 10 of them share a living space so the risks of transmitting Covid-19 are quite high.

His wife Hasina’s told ITV News: "I’ve been very worried ever since hearing news of the coronavirus infection in the Rohingya camps."

She added: "There is no end to the worry… We are getting news of the infection inside the camp daily."

Mohamed Osman's wife said she is very worried.

The Bangladeshi authorities have been trying to share messages in a bid to raise awareness and combat the spread of the virus.

Authorities are often heard from a megaphone telling people: "Keep your distances… You know about the spread of Corona in the country."

But aid agencies like Oxfam have acted quickly to put practical measures in place to limit the spread of Covid-19.

They have donated soap dispensers which are activated with a foot peddle to avoid transmission of the virus from touching the soap.

Oxfam have installed soap dispensers which can be activated with your foot.

Senior Public Health Advisor for Oxfam, Moura Rahman, said people are getting adapted to the prevention measure.

She said: "They're not coming out more frequently like they used to do before, they do not gather in the shops, or they do not gather in the markets, their movements are being restricted.

"They know where to go if they experience symptoms of Covid-19", she added.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know